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The girls from Newfoundland

Henry Nash

The girls from Newfoundland / Henry Nash

The girls from Newfoundland, song (There's a girl in St. John's Harbour that I'm longing now to see …) This wartime song is sung to the tune of “The yellow rose of Texas.” The protagonist is a soldier remembering his sweetheart in St John’s, Newfoundland.

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The hills of Glenswilly

Bernard Nash

The hills of Glenswilly / Bernard Nash

The hills of Glenswilly, song (Attention fellow countrymen come here my native news …) Written by Michael McGinley of Donegal, this song laments the necessity of leaving Donegal for a foreign land. Song collector Jim Carroll notes that McGinley may have composed the song while he travelled to New Zealand in 1879 aboard the “Invercardill.” The lyrics seem to indicate a political cause for emigration through the references to exile and raising a green flag over the hills of Glenswilly. 

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The Irish colleen

Jack Mooney

The Irish colleen / Jack Mooney

The Irish colleen, song (I went to a party consisting of four …) This song describes a party at which four toasts are proposed: a Welsh girl toasts a leek, a Scottish girl toasts a thistle, an English girl toasts a rose, and an Irish girl toasts a shamrock and Ireland.

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The mountains of Mourne

Frankie Nash & Stephanie Nash

The mountains of Mourne / Frankie Nash & Stephanie Nash

The mountains of Mourne, song (Oh Mary this London's a wonderful sight ...) William Percy French (1854–1920) of Co. Roscommon wrote the lyrics to this song around 1896 on a postcard that he then sent to music-hall composer William Houston Collison. The song tells the story of an Irishman working away from home in London, recounting both the strange things he sees and his longing to be home. Newfoundland song scholar Anna Kearney Guigné writes: “The song’s mass appeal may be attributed more to modern media than tradition. The song was popularized by the Australian tenor Peter Dawson (1882–1961)” (2016:274). Dawson’s recordings apparently were in circulation in at least some Newfoundland localities.  To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Frankie Nash’s passing, his granddaughter, Stephanie Nash, used a field recording of Frankie singing “The Mountains of Mourne” in his kitchen as the basis of her version of the song. Her version, recorded in 2016, overdubs the original field recording.

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The northeast gale

 Denis McGrath

The northeast gale / Denis McGrath

The northeast gale, song (Ye hardy sons of Newfoundland pay attention to my song ...) Composed by Walt Young, this song tells the story of a gale that arose off the coast of Newfoundland on 18 June 1906. Several fishing craft from Placentia Bay that were fishing off Cape St Mary’s were caught in the storm and men were lost at sea.

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The plains of Easter Snow

James Connors

The plains of Easter Snow / James Connors

The plains of Easter Snow, song (As I roved for recreation beneath the falling dew …) In this romantic broadside ballad, the protagonist falls in love with a beautiful woman. His proposal ultimately is turned down, and the woman departs. Song collector Jim Carroll suggests  a possible explanation for the title and origin of the song:  “ ‘Estersnowe is the name of a townland in Roscommon. Originally the place was known by its Gaelic name Diseart Nuadhan (St. Nuadha's Hermitage) but in the process of adaptation to the English language in Elizabethan times, it became known as Issertnowne. By the nineteenth century the people, when speaking English, called it Estersnowe and rationalised that strange name into Easter Snow. In County Antrim where there is a strong Scots influence, the song is known as Wester Snow.”

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The schooner Mary Ann

Mike McGrath

The schooner Mary Ann / Mike McGrath

The schooner Mary Ann, song (Oh ye landsmen that live on the land, it's a little do you know …) Strong shipping links connected Newfoundland and New York during the 19th and early 20th centuries. This song tells the story of a smallpox outbreak on a ship travelling this route. In Songs of the Newfoundland Outports 3, Kenneth Peacock publishes the title of this song as “Bound down to Newfoundland” and observes that, though the subject matter might point to its being quite an old song, the reference to the Statue of Liberty dates its composition to after 1886 (1965:905–6).

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The shores of Grand Lake

Frankie Nash

The shores of Grand Lake / Frankie Nash

The shores of Grand Lake, song (One night as I sat in my own cozy corner …) This labour song describes the practice of subcontracting (“subbing”) in the lumberwoods of Newfoundland. The lyrics protest against the poor pay and conditions endured by woodsmen, specifically mentioning the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company (“AND Company”) (Partyka in Narváez 2006:10).  This particular version seems to be a fusion of two related songs: its melody is that of “The track to Knob Lake” by Albert Roche (Roud Number 9811) and its lyrics closely resemble those of “Twin Lakes” (Roud Number 17693).

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The true lovers' conversation

Henry Campbell

The true lovers' conversation / Henry Campbell

The true lovers' conversation, song (One pleasant evening as pinks and daisies, closed in their bosom a drop of dew …) This broadside ballad recounts an overheard conversation between two lovers. The woman questions the man’s fidelity and love. Eventually it is revealed that she fancies another who has wealth and fortune. The man rejects her and she retracts her statements, explaining that she was merely testing his love for her. In Shamrock, Rose and Thistle, song scholar Hugh Shields suggests that the text originates from an anonymous poet of Magheratimpany, Ballynahinch, Co Down (1981:155).  Henry Campbell learned this song from a woman named Kay Lynch—a nurse in Branch—who got it out of a songbook.

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This is east

Frankie Nash

This is east / Frankie Nash

This is east, song (This east and this west; soon I’ll learn to say the rest …) This short children’s song is told from the perspective of a ten-year-old, bragging about all of the things he’s learned.  Frankie Nash learned this song for a school concert when he was only ten years old. He claimed that Aidan O’Hara was the first person outside of Branch to hear it.

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Thomas Trim

Gerald Campbell

Thomas Trim / Gerald Campbell

I'm Thomas Trim, song (I’m Thomas Trim a swell young man …) Gerald Campbell learned this song from his father, Henry Campbell. Henry Campbell sang “Thomas Trim” in a school concert around 1910. The song describes a young dandy going on promenade to show off his finery

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Transcript of '[Cock-a-doodle-doo]' as sung by Frankie Nash / Aidan O'Hara

Cock-a-doodle-doo, song (One morning after breakfast taking a bit of the walk …) A typed transcript based on Aidan O'Hara's field recording, with annotations and corrections by the collector.